Harrison, New Jersey (October 28, 2018) — With the Supporters’ Shield on the line, the New York Red Bulls closed their regular season at home against Orlando City SC. They will have a first-round bye as the playoffs begin.
All 11 league gamed kicked off simultaneously. Playoff seeding was not settled as the games began. Atlanta United, in first place at kickoff, went down 2-0 during the first half. This margin shifted the goal differential in favor of the Red Bulls. But the Shield would be best secured with a win.
Missed First Half Chances
From the opening whistle, the Red Bulls made some strong advances. The free kick in the 12th minute was recovered by OCSC goalkeeper Adam Grinwis. In the 14th minute, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was taken down in the box. Derrick Etienne Jr. was unable to convert the kick from the spot.
The Haitian national team midfielder had another shot in the run of play moments later but the ball sailed over the crossbar. A tangle in the box later in the half was eventually cleared by Orlando. While the Red Bulls maintained overall control of the first half, it ended in a scoreless draw. This is similar to other games from the Red Bulls this season.
Second Half Breakthrough
In the 53rd minute, Etienne was able to shake off his defender and slot the ball just inside the far post. It was his second goal for the season, indicating that he has had difficulty since scoring in May against NYCFC. His success with his national team during the most recent international break may have been the push needed to end the season strong.
Orlando striker Dom Dwyer tried to level the score in the 64th minute. The assistant referee raised the flag for offside, which was confirmed by VAR. Substitutions Fidel Escobar (73′), Daniel Royer (79′) and Brian White (90′) bolstered the defense and offered renewed attacking threat. The Red Bulls were able to hold on to the one-goal lead for the remainder of the match.
Meanwhile, Toronto FC held down Atlanta by a scoreline of 4-1 in favor of the 2017 Shield winners. With 71 points, the New York Red Bulls win the Supporters’ Shield for the third time in five years, and a new MLS record for points on the season.
Photo credit: Bill Twomey Photography